December 9, 2010: PR WEB: NORTHAMPTON, MA
Northampton, MA Makes Testing Roads with Rubber Speed Humps Part of its Traffic Calming Program
As the Transportation Engineer for Northampton, MA, one of the first tasks Laura Hanson was assigned was to implement a new Traffic Calming Program. After researching several other cities' programs, she was concerned of reports where neighborhoods expressed complaints, resulting in speed humps being removed shortly after their installation. It appeared that the perfect solution was to try a temporary speed hump on a street before installing a permanent asphalt hump, making sure to involve public feedback in the process.
Since Northampton had never installed speed humps, there was a mixture of skepticism and support for the rubber devices. Ms. Hanson coordinated with Traffic Logix, a leading manufacturer of rubber speed humps, to do a live product demonstration on Meadow St. for the City of Northampton's engineers, emergency services, police staff, and city councilors. The demonstration was conducted with units of rubber speed humps contributed by Traffic Logix as well as some sections borrowed from neighboring Amherst, MA. The City employees and engineers liked the highly reflective, pre-formed rubber speed humps and the idea that the portable speed humps could be used to test neighborhood response before installing asphalt humps. The emergency response teams found it beneficial to drive their vehicles over the temporary speed humps and speed cushions to see and feel the effects firsthand.
Soon after, Mass Development, an agency that supports economic growth and development in the state, contacted Northampton about funding that was available for traffic improvements in the vicinity of the Village Hill development off of Route 66.
Northampton seized the opportunity and used the funds during the summer months for improvements on nearby local streets. Traffic calming measures included the installation of a sidewalk, concrete granite curbing, thermoplastic crosswalks, Streetprint XD to highlight an intersection and the purchase of two temporary speed humps. Two sets of speed humps were installed on residential Grove St., where many residents had complained that their street was used as a cut-through for speeding cars. One of the speed humps was installed with a wetland on one side and a field on the other. The second speed hump was installed directly in front of a residential home.
The speed humps were left on the road for several months, giving neighbors a chance to get used to what it felt like to have speed humps on their road. A traffic counter monitored vehicle speeds and found that the speed humps worked, reducing traffic speed by an average 8.5 miles per hour. The rubber humps were then removed from Grove St. to determine resident reaction.
It turns out that the residents really missed the speed humps after they were removed since they noticed that traffic reverted to former speeding habits. At a public meeting, a vote on the reinstallation of the speed humps was unanimous. Ms. Hanson recommended that the neighborhood send a formal letter to the DPW to request permanent speed humps be installed.
'The neighborhood loved the speed humps,' said Ms. Hanson.
The City purchased the asphalt for three permanent speed humps on Grove St., which the Department of Public Works installed in October 2010.
In the meantime, the portable rubber humps will be used on other local streets to test their effects on speed reduction and neighborhood input will be gathered.
A Traffic Logix rubber speed hump has subsequently been installed on State Street. It was ranked the number one street in Northampton in need of traffic calming after an application and engineering study was completed. Feedback is encouraged from the residents at a public meeting before a decision regarding permanent speed humps is reached. In Spring of 2011, the rubber humps will be used to test two parallel roads, Hawley Street and Pomeroy Terrace. In June 2011, they will be moved to Riverside Drive, a long, straight roadway near a local high school where the 85th percentile speed is 10 mph faster than the posted speed.
Northampton, like cities everywhere, has a limited traffic calming budget. The rubber speed humps help them use their funds wisely. By educating the public and gaining feedback from the temporary device, the primary location can be identified for a permanent speed hump. This saves the energy and cost of having to remove an unwanted speed hump.
Testing streets with rubber speed humps before installing permanent ones has now been included in the Northampton traffic calming program. This feature has become so popular in Northampton that Ms. Hanson has a new task: to develop a 'Speed Hump Policy' for the City.Traffic Logix rubber speed humps can be used for temporary or permanent usage. They have been installed in hundreds of cities in the US, Canada, Mexico, and across Europe. Traffic Logix also manufactures rubber speed cushions, tables, and curbing, as well as a full line of radar speed signs. For more information, visit http://www.trafficlogix.com.